How the ghosts of the Coventry greats come back to haunt us…
Today is your final chance to vote for Coventry’s Most Valuable Player before the poll closes at midnight tonight, so if you haven’t done so , please click on the link below and scroll down.
Loads of you have already, but without giving anything away, any extra votes today are going to make a difference.
On each of the 12 days of Christmas, I’ll count down to the winner of the poll, the player you feel has the most impact during a game…
…in short, Cov’s MVP.
Thank you to everyone who has voted.
Please click below if you haven’t and would like to do so. Scroll down the post until you come to the list of players:
Two weeks to wait until the next Cov game. It’s seems an age away at the moment.
And given Coventry’s recent record of 3 consecutive defeats, I wonder if the coaches welcome the break or would rather a home game on Boxing Day and a chance to give some festive cheer to what would presumably be a larger than normal crowd, relieved to have a break from the mince pies and left over turkey and eager to get behind their team.
Better as well, perhaps, for the team not to have too long to dwell on the what ifs or the what might have beens.?
To me, it’s a bit like falling over on the ice rink as a kid, you just have to get up as soon as possible and keep practising until you get it right. By nature I tend to want to get back up and prove a point, either to myself or to those around me who have watched me tumble.
And it’s exactly the same as a supporter…okay, we fell short this time but we’ll learn from our mistakes, change things accordingly and get it right on the next occasion. Bring it on. I’d welcome the Boxing Day game.
Though had we won on Saturday, I think I might feel differently…
…but we didn’t and I don’t.
I have learned something this weekend though. Coventry supporters seem to perceive the way their team plays very differently to the way others see us as playing.
I’ll try and explain what I mean…
I spent a lovely evening yesterday at the wedding reception of the daughter of a good friend.
Leaving home early in the evening as I did, well before some of the posters on the messageboard had left their comments on the game having returned from Ampthill, I only knew the score and little else.
It was after midnight before I got back home and before retiring to bed, I had a brief look at what people had written…it didn’t make happy reading.
It was all a bit negative, a game we’d lost rather than Ampthill had won, plenty of possession, territorial advantage in the final minutes, questions about selection and the recent management shuffle, poor defence, more injuries and so on.
There were some positives, Cliffie’s return, Jacques Le Roux’s continued good form, Parkins coming in late and doing a good job amongst them, a strong scrum but it was a bit of a struggle to pick these out from the more disparaging remarks.
I woke to find even more…
I subscribe to the online version of The Rugby Paper (cheapskate that I am) and so it was some trepidation that I turned to the Coventry match report, fearing the worst in the light of what I’d read on the messageboard. But I needn’t have worried…
…quite the reverse in fact. The headline set the tone:
Amazing Ampthill thrill with fightback victory
Perhaps a slightly different view of the game here. A decent Cov performance by the sound of it..? Coventry showed ‘great character’, and Ampthill secured the win, despite the ‘valiant efforts from the away side’.
Now The Rugby Paper are usually pretty spot on with their reports which tend to be little more than just a factual account. In this case though, the reporter had felt it appropriate to comment on Coventry’s efforts which, from a neutral’s point of view (in that I hadn’t been at the game), read as determined and worthy of praise.
And definitely very different from those outline by most posters on the board.
Why would this be…? Why would we apparently put ourselves down to such an extent, or why would The Rugby Paper build us up? Someone had to be wrong…how is it possible that Cov supporters would see it one way and a reporter see it so very differently?
It wasn’t until I read Ampthill’s match report that it began to make sense. The report, similar to that of The Rugby Paper’s, gives a very positive view of Coventry’s performance (in fairness it could have been written by the same person, although the reports were very differently worded):
Pinch yourselves home supporters, Ampthill deservedly beat a strong Coventry side despite the result being in the balance right until the final whistle.
The visitors, showing great character, stemmed the Ampthill tide and came back into the game scoring a 29th minute try through elusive wing Ryan Hough, converted by fly half Cliff Hodgson.
Coventry were physical, aggressive and a handful up front
We are still learning at this level but beating a strong Coventry side with all their tradition must go down as the best result in Ampthill’s history
It’s the last line that puts it all in perspective for me…maybe the reporter builds up Coventry’s performance because in doing so it makes a win against ‘a strong Coventry side with all their tradition’ that much more significant. For Paul Turner, the Head Coach, the win against the Cov team doesn’t appear to be as significant as the win against the club itself.
It’s the history and the name of Coventry that are the spoils, more than the 6 points difference.
And that kind of makes sense…a victory against a team 8th in the league at the start of the day and 10th by the end is hardly going to be their best ever result, especially when they already had some notable wins against teams better placed than us. But it is when you play Coventry because Coventry comes with a rugby heritage few can match. Would Paul Turner use that as part of a motivational talk prior to the game?
Of course he would.
‘Massive scalp today lads if we can beat this lot. One of the greatest clubs in the country, won everything in its time…’
David v Goliath.
It happens time and time again. We’re playing clubs who are more fired up against us than against most other teams, partly because of the kudos attached to beating us. That’s clear from what Paul Turner said.
I’ve heard it referred to before, but never really paid a great deal of attention to it, but when the new kids on the block meet Coventry, you can expect something extra from the opposition every time.
Visit most away games and the programme will mention the Coventry side of times past. Names like Judd, Jackson, Duckham, Preece, Evans and Rossborough will feature somewhere. No team can match up to such iconic names.
It’s as if the ghosts of the Coventry greats come back to haunt us everywhere we travel.
And they do at the Butts too.
Even those whose memories don’t go quite so far back still compare the squad today to by-gone times, where we still had success on the pitch. Names like Thomas (Steve and Paul), Hardwick, Grewcock , Johnson or Perry trip easily off the tongue. We all do it – even play games about it…
Who from today’s squad would get into the 95/96 Courage National 3 promotion wining side (under Eves)
Been there, done it.
We shouldn’t but we do.
And that’s why some of us get so down about the way Cov play, or about the relatively poor performances so far this year. Or at least that is why I do; I believe Coventry should be in the Championship because we were there a few years ago, it’s where we belong and we’re a club that’s too good to play National 3.
Which is of course nonsense. But I’m constantly making comparisons of things that are actually non-comparable.
But it’s partly the reason I bought into the belief that this was going to be the season we’d promoted quite as much as I did. Not just because I believed we had the team to do it, but also because it would represent, in rugby terms, the return of the prodigal son. Back to the place that is rightfully ours. Ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s an element of truth in there…Coventry shouldn’t be in National League 1.
And yet we should, because we are.
Like it or not.
It’s arrogant and unfair to those teams around us…I know all that…but I do think this sometimes clouds my judgement. And if it does, then it will be the same for others, too. And that’s partly why I think we tend to be damning about Coventry’s performances at the moment…maybe not when comparing with teams of the 60s and 70’s but with teams over the past few years certainly, and with that of last season. There might be many of the same players, but it’s not the same team. Yes, Cov is underperforming but we shouldn’t necessarily expect us to automatically replicate last season’s performances.
Yet that’s what we do…if they did it last season and the season before, then they should be doing it again this season. And there we go again, more ghosts appear. Maybe not of the greats this time, but certainly of the ‘greaters’…
After a while I bet the players become fed up with hearing it.